The Portuguese army is a small conscript force which maintains key functions at high readiness and maintains basic skill sets for rapid mobilization. Structurally they have a Corps HQ, but in reality this formation would function at the divisional level and either remain in Portugal to enable mobilization or deploy with the Mechanized Brigade to NATO’s Southern Army Group (SOUTHAG). The standing army was 44,000 personnel with about 175,000 reserves.
The majority of the Portuguese Army is ‘light’. The units are either specialized light infantry such as the Paratroop Brigade which is controlled by the Air Force, the Marines which are controlled by the Navy or the Commandos who are tasked by the national HQ, or lightly equipped regional forces. The one mechanized formation ‘1a Brigada Mista Independiente’ or 1st Mixed Brigade, has an armored battalion (M60A3 TTS), a mechanized battalion (M-113) and a motorized battalion (trucks). The garrison units are unique; they are based on a light infantry battalion but have a battery of 105mm artillery, a reconnaissance squadron and air defence.
M60A3 TTS Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The US provided Portugal with 93 M60A3 TTS as well as several bridge layer, engineering, recovery and driver training variants in 1991. These replaced M-48s which were returned to the US. This is a standard M60A3 with a Thermal imaging targeting site (TTS) added to improve night and poor visibility operations. Most, (53) of these MBTs are in the Armored Battalion of the Mixed Brigade while the remainder are in the Cavalry (Reconnaissance) Squadron and training school.
The Mechanized Battalion of the Mixed Brigade operates 42 of the 123 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers in the Portuguese Army. Other variants of this vehicle being used are the command post (M577), the TOW missile carrier (M901), the 20mm Vulcan (M163A1) anti-aircraft system, the 107mm mortar carrier (M106) and the 81mm mortar carrier (M125). The remainder of the M113s are spread throughout the regional brigades and training schools.
Portugal employs a wide variety of artillery systems, mostly older towed guns held in the schools and the reserves with two Self Propelled (SP) batteries in the mixed brigade.
23x 5.5 inch guns
6x M109A2 SP 155mm Howitzer
40x M114/23 Towed 155mm Howitzer
60x M-101 Towed 105mm Howitzer
6x M108 SP 105mm Howitzer
5.5 Inch Gun
Air Defence Systems
Portugal has a large number of light air defence systems with the Vulcan SP and RH202 systems in the active force and most of the remainder in reserve forces.
332x Bofors, 40mmL/70 Towed AA Guns
30x RH202, 20mm Towed AA Guns
34x M163A1 20mm Vulcan SP AA Guns
57x Blowpipe SAM